Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “A real road test.”

There are certain mysteries that simply cannot be answered.

One of these is the question that asks about the purpose of Creation.

As one Hasidic rebbe said with respect to this very question,  there is language in the Midrash to the effect that the Almighty had a taivah, a desire, and if you have a desire, you don’t ask why.

The language of the Midrash is very suggestive at this point because a taivah is something we can’t explain.

Answering a question about the “why” of Creation can be proved, philosophically, to be impossible.

You get to a point where you are asking questions that are unanswerable, not because you lack knowledge but because they are unanswerable by definition.

But perhaps we can say this much:

When you speak about the world from this point of view, it is, so to speak, a tour de force, an experiment in existence, an experiment of what I might call “conquering the utmost case.”

In a way, existence in any other world is not “proof.”

Proof in the utmost case occurs only when you can do things under the worst of circumstances.

If I want to test a new car, the way that I test it is not on the smoothest of roads, under the best conditions.

To have a real road test to prove that a car really works, I have to put it under the worst conditions in which there is yet hope.

I cannot test it by driving it off a cliff, but I can test it on the roughest terrain where I must come to the edge of a cliff and have to stop.

How is a new airplane tested?

They put it under nearly impossible conditions, which the plane must withstand. Otherwise the whole experiment doesn’t prove anything.

The same with Creation.

Creation would have been pointless unless it was a Creation under precisely these difficult circumstances.

Theologically speaking, the worst possible world in which there is yet hope is the only world in which Creation makes sense.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz